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Full text of "The tomb of Washington at Mount Vernon, embracing a full and accurate description of Mount Vernon, as well as of the birthplace, genealogy, character, marriage, and last illness of Washington"

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The author is under obligations to John A. Washington, 
Esq., of Mount Vernon; the late G. W. P. Custis, Esq., of 
Arlington, Va. ; and Rembrandt Peale, Esq., of Philadel- 
phia, for many facts contained within these pages. 

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1858, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia. 







l^^ --:?^< 






Its influential emotions as a Mecca. Distance. Present owner. 
Judge Bushrod Washington. General Washington appointed exec- 
utor in the will of his halt-brother, Lawrence, who bequeathed him 
the estate of Mount Vernon. Washington's will. 



The amount of land originally patented. The name given in 
honor of High Admiral Vernon. 


Derivation of the name. The name in the local history of Eng- 
land. Sir Henry Washington. 


John Washington. Lawrence. John. The father of Washing- 
ton, Augustine. Kiswill. To Lawrence. To Augustiue. To George. 
To the rest of his sons. To his daughter Betty. The mother of 
Washington. Lawrence Washington. 


His marriage with the widow, Martha Custis. Where it took 
place. G. W.P. Custis's remarks upon the occasion. Mrs. Custis'a 
two children. The removal after marriage to Mount Vernon. 


Accidental meeting. The engagemeot. Preparations for mar- 


In the parish of Washington. ColonelJohn Washington. Law- 
rence. Colonel George C. Lewis W. Gov. H. A. Wise's visit. The 



Its location. Boundary when bequeathed to Judge Bushrod 
Washington. Mansion house. Curiosities and relics. The orchard, 
garden, and conservatories. 


Its location. A fine view. 

l^^^^ ^ -^"^€61^ 



Its location. Washington's will in reference to a new vault. The 



Its location. The antechamber. The marble sarcophagus. The 
design on the lid. Inscription at the foot. Relatives present on the 
occasion of the removal. Uemains of Mrs. Martha Washington. 



Her instructions regarding her remains. Mr. Marshall's resolu- 
tions in Congjess. The resolution communicated to Mrs. Washing- 
ton. Her response. Her worthy deeds. 



To the memory of Judge Bushrod Washington and Anna Black- 
burn, his wife. To the memory of John A. Washington, (the 2d.) 
To the memory of Eleanor Parke Lewis. To the memory of Mrs. E. 
A. M. Conrad. 


The feelings when visiting it. Washington's deeds in his coun- 
try's cause. 



His features. Combination of qualities. Measurement. 


From the pen of Phillips. The whole world should claim him. 


The la-st visit around his farm. His illness. Calls in medical 
aid. Proves unavailing. 



Tobias Lear. Time of Washington's death. The melancholy news 
arrives at the seat of government. Mr. Marshall's resolutions. The 
Senate'a letter to President Adams. 


The procession. Inscription upon the coffin. His wish how he 
should be buried. The English fleet. Its token of respect. 

m^^^P^ "^""^^Sl:! 


Hlouitt fenmr. 

" There rests the Man, the flower of human kind, 
Whose visage mild bespoke his nobler mind ; 
There rests the Soldier, who his sword ne'er drew 
But in a righteous cause, to Freedom true ; 
There rests the Hero, who ne'er fought for fame, 
Yet gained more glory than a Coesar's name; 
There rests the Statesman, who, devoid of art. 
Gave soundest counsels from an upright heart. 
And, Columbia ! by thy sons caress'd. 
There rests the Father of the realms he bless'd, 
Who no wish felt to make his mighty praise. 
Like other Chiefs, the means himself to raise ; 
But when retiring, breathed in pure renown, 
And felt a grandeur that disdained a crown." 

Mount Vernon has a deep and enduring interest 
for those who esteem the memory of Washington. It 
is a Mecca, towards which the heart turns with intense 
emotion, and which every American may visit to com- 
memorate the virtues of his country's greatest benefac- 
tor, upon whose character and history he may meditate 
until, from the suggestions of the past, as memory brings 
them up, link by link, he may catch something of the 
spirit of the mighty dead. Here the lessons of patriot- 




ism may be enhanced, the mind elevated to nobler views 
of the vital questions that concern our country's vrel- 
fare, the elements of our pure institutions brought to 
remembrance, and the tone of public life in former gen- 
erations recalled. 

Ten miles below Alexandria, and sixteen below 
Washington City, the majestic waters of the Potomac 
lave the shore of Mount Vernon. 

The present owner of Mount Vernon is John A. 
Washington, Esq., (the 3d,) the great-grand nephew of 
General Washington. He inherited the estate from 
his father, John A. Washington, (the 2d.) The latter 
was the nephew of Judge Bushrod Washington, who 
appointed him one of his executors, and bequeathed 
him the estate, on which he died, June 16th, 1832, 
aged 43. 

Judge Bushrod Washington was the son of John A. 
Washington, (the 1st,) and nephew of General Wash- 
ington, who appointed him one of his executors, and 
bequeathed him the estate. He died in Philadelphia, 
November 26th, 1829, aged 68, having been for thirty 
years an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, which situation he held at the time of 
his death. 

General Washington was appointed, in the will of 

W ^-^^^^ . ^^-d^Q^l 


his half-brother, Lawrence, one of his executors, and the 
estate, bequeathed to his surviving daughter, Sarah, was 
to pass to the General if she died without issue; and ho 
therefore came in possession of the same July 26th, 
1752. He made extensive improvements, and enlarged 
the estate, of which he set apart a considerable quan- 
tity for cultivation during his lifetime. At his death 
— he dying without issue — he gave and bequeathed to 
his wife the benefit of all his real and personal property 
during her natural life, with the exception of some 
special bequests which he made to some of his rela- 
tives and most intimate friends, not on account of their 
intrinsic value, but as tokens of his high respect. Among 
these were : A box made of the oak that sheltered 
Sir William Wallace after the battle of Falkirk, origin- 
ally designed to be presented by the Goldsmith's Com- 
pany of Edinburgh to Lord Buchan, who received it 
upon condition that it might be transferred to General 
Washington, who recommitted it by bequest to Lord 
Buchan, and in case of his death to his heir. 

To his brother, Charles Washington, he gave his gold- 
headed cane, left to him by Dr. Benjamin Franklin in 

his will. 

To Lawrence and Robert Washington, of Chotanck, 
King George's county, Va., "acquaintances and 

539V_ ^^,:r9^^Sm 



friends of his juvenile years," he gave his other two 
gold-headed canes, with his arras engraved upon them, 
one to each ; also two spy-glasses, one to each. The 
spy-glasses, he said, constituted part of his equipment 
during the Revolutionary war. 

To his compatriot in arms, his old intimate friend 
and family physician, Dr. James Craik, he gave his 
secretary and circular chair. These were appendages 
to his study room. 

To Dr. David Stuart he gave his large shaving and 
dressing table and his telescope. 

To Lord Fairfax he gave a Bible in three large folio 
volumes, presented to him by the Rev. Thomas Wilson, 
Bishop of Sodor and Man, England. 

To General De Lafayette he gave a pair of finely- 
wrought steel pistols, which were taken from the Brit- 
ish in the Revolutionary war. 

To five of his nephews — William Augustine Wash- 
ington, George Lewis, George Steptoe Washington, 
Bushrod Washington, and Samuel Washington — he 
bequeathed a sword to each, adding the injunction not 
to take them from their scabbards with the intention 
of shedding blood, except in self-defence or in defence 
of their country, and, in the latter case, to keep them 
unsheathed and die with them in their hands rather 





than give up the same. Some of these swords were 
worn by his side in his engagements with the enemies 
of his country. 

To his nephew, Bushrod Washington, he bequeathed 
all his civil and military papers. These were purchased 
by Congress, and are now in the archives of the depart- 
ments. Also his private papers and the books of every 
description in his library. 

To his wife and her heirs forever he bequeathed an 
improved town lot in Alexandria and his household 
furniture of every kind. 

By his will his whole real estate, amounting 
nearly to ten thousand acres of land, was divided, 
after the death of his wife, among the following re- 
cipients : 

First. To his nephew, Bushrod Washington, and his 
heirs, he gave and bequeathed Mount Vernon, (proper,) 
which contained upwards of four thousand acres of land, 
together with the mansion and all other buildings and 
improvements, as Washington said, " partly in consid- 
eration of an intimation to his deceased father, while 
we were bachelors, and he had kindly undertaken to 
superintend my estate during my military services in 
the former war between Great Britain and France, that, 
if I should fall therein. Moujit Vernon, then less ex- 


tensive in domain than at present, should become his 

Second. To George Fayette Washington and Charles 
Augustine Washington he gave and bequeathed, to 
them and their heirs, the estate east of Little Hunting 
creek, bordering on the Potomac river, containing up- 
wards of two thousand acres. In giving this bequest he 
said : "In consideration of the consanguinity between 
them and my wife, being as nearly related to her as to 
myself, as on account of the affection I had for and 
the obligation I was under to their father when living, 
who from his youth had attached himself to my person 
and followed my fortunes through the vicissitudes of 
the late Revolution, afterwards devoting his time to the 
superintendence of my private concerns for many years, 
whilst my public employments rendered it impractica- 
ble for me to do it myself, thereby affording me essen- 
tial services, and always performing them in a manner 
the most filial and respectful." 

Third. To his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and Elea- 
nor Parke Lewis, his wife, and their heirs, he gave and 
bequeathed the residue of the domain of the Mount 
Vernon estate not already devised to his nephew. Bush- 
rod Washington, and a tract of land west of this, to- 
gether with a mill, distillery, and other improvements 

M<^^yp^~~" ' ^^^^^^'^Sll 


ou the premises, both together making about two thou- 
sand acres. In giving this he said : " And whereas it 
has always been my intention, since my expectation of 
having issue ceased, to consider the grandchildren of 
my wife in the same light as I do my own relations, 
and to act a friendly part by them ; more especially by 
the two whom we have raised from their earliest in- 
fancy, namely, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Wash- 
ington Parke Custis ; and whereas the former of these 
hath lately intermarried with Lawrence Lewis, a son 
of my deceased sister, Betty Lewis, by which union 
the inducement to provide for them both has been in- 

Fourth. To his ward, who was also his wife's grand- 
Don, George "Washington Parke Custis, and his heirs, 
he bequeathed a tract of land on Four-Mile run, near 
Alexandria, containing one thousand two hundred acres, 
also his entire square No. 21 in the city of "Washington. 
In giving this, he said he was actuated by the principle 
already mentioned — that is, considering the grandchil- 
dren of his wife in the same light as he did bis own 

Fifth. The balance of his real and personal estate, 
accompanied by a schedule and a reasonable esti- 
mate of its value, he desired might be sold by his 


^ ^ 



executors,* if they could not agree otherwise in the 

Lastly. He generously gave freedom to all the slaves 
he owned, and made ample provision for the helpless 
ones, both old and young. 

* The executors were his wife, Martha Washington, his 
nephews, William Augustine Washington, Bushrod Washing- 
ton, George Steptoe Washington, Samuel Washington, and 
Lawrence Lewis, and his ward, George Washington Parke 




patentees of lioimt Wmxm. 

The Mount Vernon estate was originally the half of 
5,000 acres of land that was assigned, on division, to 
John Washington, the great-grandfather of General 
Washington, who, in conjunction with Nicholas Spen- 
cer, patented it from Lord Culpeper in 1670. John 
Washington bequeathed this estate to his son Lawrence, 
who bequeathed it to his son Augustine, who be- 
queathed it to his son Lawrence, who gave it the name 
it now bears, in honor of High Admiral Vernon, of 
the British navy, under whom Lawrence had served. 
Lawrence bequeathed it to his half-brother, George, as 
has already been stated. 





^22^>^ ^r^w^m 

re d~> 


The family name of Washington is derived from a 
person originally named William De Hertburn, whose 
name was changed in the 13th century, from the fact 
of his owning a manor called Washington, in the county 
of Durham, in England, where a custom prevailed in 
those days to name the person after his estate. 

The name became conspicuous in the local history 
of England, which has uniformly spoken of the family 
as being composed of individuals of the highest respect- 
ability, possessing wealth, talent, and influence. 

Sir Henry Washington, one of the family, a British 
colonel, made himself renowned for the active part he 
sustained at the capture of Bristol, in 1640, in the 
army of Charles I. Two uncles of this Colonel Wash- 
ington came together to this country — John, the origi- 
nal owner of the land now called Mount Vernon, and 
his brother Lawrence — from England, in the year 1657, 
and settled upon the banks of Bridge's (afterwards 
called Pope's) creek, in the colony of Virginia. 

i^^y^p^ ~^^^^<^ii 


John Washington, soon after he came to America, 
was appointed to a military command against the In- 
dians, and was afterwards raised to the rank of a colonel. 
He married Anne Pope, by whom he had two sons, 
Lawrence and John, and a daughter, named Anne, 
who married Major Francis Wright. 

Lawrence, the eldest son of John and Anne, married 
Mildred Warner, daughter of Col. Augustine Warner, 
of Westmoreland county, Virginia, and had two sons, 
John and Augustine, and a daughter, named Mildred, 
who married for her first husband a Mr. Gregory, and 
for her second Col. Henry Willis, by the latter of 
whom only she had issue. 

John, the eldest son of Lawrence and Mildred, mar- 
ried Catharine Whiting, of Gloucester county, in which 
he settled, diedj and was buried. He left two sons, 
Warner and Henry, and three daughters, Mildred, 
Elizabeth, and Catharine. 


Augustine, the youngest son of Lawrence and Mil- 
dred, married, on the 20th April, 1715, Jane Butler, 

„ 15 is 


the daughter of Col. Caleb Butler, of Westmoreland 
county, Va. She died November 24th, 1728, and was 
buried in the family vault at Bridge's creek. She left 
three sons, Butler, Lawrence,, and Augustine, and a 
daughter, Jane ; Butler and Jane died quite young. 
Their father married, March 6th, 1730, for his second 
wife, Mary Ball, by whom he had six children, 
George, the illustrious patriot, Betty, Samuel, John 
Augustine, Charles, and Mildred. The latter died 
when an infant. Augustine (the hero's sire") died 
April 12, 1743. Sparks says : 

" Little is known of his acts. It appears by his 
will, however, that he possessed a large and valuable 
property in lands j and as this had been acquired chiefly 
by his own enterprise, it may be inferred that in the 
concerns of business he was methodical, skilful, honor- 
able, and energetic. His occupation was that of a 
planter, which, from the first settlement of the country, 
had been the pursuit of nearly all the principal gentle- 
men of Virginia. Each of his sons inherited from him 
a separate plantation. It is thus seen that Augustine 
Washington, although suddenly cut off in the vigor of 
manhood, left all his children in a state of comparative 
independence. Confiding in the prudence of the mother, 
he directed that all the proceeds of the property of her 



children should be at her disposal till they should re- 
SDectively come of age." 

To his son Lawrence he gave the Mount Vernon 
estate, together with lands and shares in iron works 
which were very valuable in Virginia and Maryland. 

To Augustine he gave the old home farm at Bridge's 
creek, the place where he was buried, in the tomb of 
his ancestors. 

To George he gave the new home farm, opposite 
Fredericksburg, on the east side of the Rappahannock 
river, the place where he lived at the time of his 

To the rest of his sons he gave each a separate estate 
of from six to seven hundred acres. 

For his only remaining daughter, Betty, ample pro- 
vision was made in his will. 


Mary, the widow of Augustine, General Washington's 
mother, died in Fredericksburg, August 25th, 1789, at 
the age of 82. She was buried upon the estate (adjoin- 
ing Fredericksburg) of her son-in-law. Col. Fielding 
Lewis, on an elevated spot, which was selected by 
her for the purpose a number of years previous to 
her death. 







" Within a few steps from the place where she lies 
interred is a romantic ledge of rocks to which she used 
often to resort for private meditation and devotion. She 
was a lady of uncommon excellence, and was greatly 
endeared to all who had the happiness of her acquaint- 
ance. She was truly estimable in all the relations of 
life ; but among the distinguished traits of her char- 
acter, none was more remarkable than her constant and 
generous attentions to the necessities of the poor. She 
for years was expecting the approach of death from a 
deep-rooted cancer in her breast, and was long desirous 
to lay aside her clayey tabernacle to depart and be with 
Christ, in whom was all her hope ; yet she was enabled 
to exercise a becoming resignation to the will of God 
under all the sufferings she endured from her excruci- 
ating disorder." Over her grave is now to be seen 
a half-finished white marble monument, (presenting 
rather an" imposing aspect, notwithstanding its unfin- 
ished state,) the corner-stone of which was laid May 
7th, 1833, by General Andrew Jackson, then Presi- 
dent of the United States 


Lawrence, the eldest son then living of Augustine 
and Jane, married, July 19th, 1743, Anne, eldest 








daughter of the Hon. William Fairfax, who was a 
distant relative of Lord Fairfax. They had four chil- 
dren ; three died young, and the other lived some time 
after the death of her father : he died in 1752, aged 
34, and was placed in the family vault at Mount 






Maslington's Carriage. 

George, the eldest son of Augustine and Mary, mar- 
ried, January 6th, 1758, Martha Custis, widow of 
Daniel Parke Custis, and daughter of John Dandridge, 
of New Kent county, Virginia.* The marriage took 
place on the banks of the Pomunkey, a branch of the 
York river, in New Kent county. The ceremony was 
performed by the Rev. Mr. Munson, who was the rec- 
tor of St. Peter's church. " This union," says Sparks, 
" was in every respect felicitous. It continued forty 
years. To her intimate acquaintances and to the nation 
the character of Mrs. Washington was ever a theme of 
praise. Affable and courteous, exemplary in her de- 
portment, remarkable for her deeds of charity and 

* Mrs. Custis had two children living at the time of her 
second marriage — one a son (named John) 6 years old; the 
other a daughter (named Martha) two years younger. The 
son afterwards became aid-de-camp to General Washington, 
and during the seige of Yorktown was seized with a camp 
fever, then raging in the British entrenchments, from the 
effects of which he died, in the 27th year of his age, at his 
home, Eltham, in New Kent county, whither he had been 
removed. He was the father of the late and highly esteemed 
G. W. P. Custis, of Arlington, Va. The daughter died in 
her 19th year at Mount Vernon. 




piety, unostentatious, and without vanity, she adorned 
by her domestic virtues the sphere of private life, and 
filled with dignity every station in which she was 
placed." She was noted for her beauty and accom- 
plishments, and possessed considerable wealth. 

Soon after their marriage they moved to Mount Ver- 
non, and there permanently settled. 


^5^^ ^^^^ 


It was in the month of May, 1758, when Washing- 
ton, (then a Colonel,) being on his way to Williamsburg 
from Winchester, then his headquarters, on official busi- 
ness, was accosted by Mr. Chamberlyne — living in the 
mansion known as the White House, situated on the 
southern side of the Pomunkey river, near Williams' 
Ferry, in Kent county — who insisted upon his stopping 
and partaking of hia hospitality during the day. The 
Colonel apologized by saying his time would not permit; 
but, Mr Chamberlyne oflfering, as an inducement, the 
promise of an introduction to "a young widow" who 
was then under his roof, he waived his objections and 
consented to stay until after dinner. Orders were given 
accordingly to the Colonel's attendant — a body servant, 
bequeathed, with a noble charger, to Washington, 
by General Braddock in his dying moments. On be- 
ing ushered into the house, he was introduced to several 
guests, and among the rest the fascinating young widow. 
The result of their interview was a mutual reciproca- 
tion of the tender feeling. He dined, and the servant 
was ready with the charger ; but love induced procras- 





tiaation. Time passed on, and yet the Colonel did not 
appear; the servant meanwhile wondering at his unusual 
delay, as he was noted for his great punctuality. The 
host at length ordered the horses to be put up for the 
night, as no guest left his house after sundown. The 
next morning late, the Colonel put spurs to his charger, 
and, having reached the seat of government, soon dis- 
patched his business, and returned again to Mr. Cham- 
berlyne's mansion, where an engagement was entered 
into and preparations made for the marriage. Mr. G. 
W- P. Custis said he had often "heard of that mar- 
riage, from the gray-haired domestics who waited at the 
board where love made the feast and Washington the 
guest. And rare and high was the revelry at that 
palmy period of Virginia's festal age ; for many were 
gathered to that marriage, of the good, the great ; and 
they, with joyous acclamations, hailed in Virginia's 
youthful hero a happy and prosperous bridegroom." 

" ' And so you remember when Colonel Washington 
came a courting of your young mistress ?' said Mr. 
Custis to old Cully, in his hundredth year. 'Ay, 
master, that I do,' replied the ancient family servant, 
who had lived to see five generations ; ' great times, sir, 
great times — shall never see the like again !' ' And 
Washington looked something like a man, a proper man 









— hey, Cully ?' * Never seed the like, sir — never the 
like of him, though I have seen many in my day — so 
tall, so straight ! and then he sat on a horse and rode 
with such an air ! Ah, sir, he was like no one else. 
Many of the grandest gentlemen, in gold lace, were at 
the wedding ; but none looked like the man himself.' 
Strong indeed must have been the impression which 
the person and manner of Washington made upon the 
' rude, untutored mind' of this poor negro, since the 
lapse of three-quarters of a century had not sufficed to 
eflface it." 




ilje §irtljplaci^ of Maslrngtcn. 

Blest be the spot that gave thee birth, 

Immortal Washington ; 
Thy name will ever shine on earth 

Bright as the midday sun. 

The birthplace of General Washington is in the 
parish of Washington — named after his great-grand- 
father, John — situated on a tolerably elevated plain, 
which commands a bold and majestic prospect of the 
Maryland shore and of the broad Potomac, extending 
many miles towards the Chesapeake bay. It is half a 
mile from the mouth and about sixty yards from the 
shore of Pope's creek, which flows gracefully on its 
course, around precipitous and crescent-formed banks, 
into the Potomac river, ninety miles south of Wash- 
ington city, in the county of Westmoreland, Va. The 
spot is designated by a granite slab, now broken in 
three pieces, bearing this plain inscription, " Here, on 
the 11th of February,* 1732, Greorge Washington was 

* Old style, which corresponds to the 22d of February new 
style, the day celebrated as the anniversary of Washington's 

Washington was baptized on the 16th of April, 1732, accord- 


1^^ -==^35^ 


born." The slab was placed there by George W. P. 
Custis, esq., in June, 1815. 

Col. John Washington, who came from England and 
settled on Pope's creek, granted a tract of land at its 
mouth to his son Lawrence. 

Lawrence, in his will, dated March 11th, 1698, says, 
" I give the tract of land on which I now live to my 
son, John Washington." There were also bequests 
made by him to his son Augustine and to his daughter 
Mildred. It appears from authentic information that 
John Washington sold this estate to his brother Au- 
gustine, the father of George, who bequeathed it to his 
son Augustine, who bequeathed it to his son William 
Augustine, who bequeathed it to his son. Col. George 
Washington, who sold it to John Gray, with the excep- 
tion of a reservation of sixty feet square around the 
site of the house, which is memorable as being the 
birthplace of General Washington ; and a reservation 
of twenty feet square around the burial-ground and 
vault of the Washington family, situated about a mile 
from the site of the house, in which are interred the 
remains of the father, grandfather, and great-grand- 

ing to the rites and ceremonies of the Protestant Episcopal 
church, -which was the established church and the prevailing 
religion at that period in Virginia. 

— ^ \ \xT^ 


father of General Washington, and members of their 
respective families. A few partially decayed posts only 
remain of the old enclosure around this consecrated 

Near the vault is a moss-covered tombstone, having 
upon it the following inscription : " Here lyeth ye 
body of John Washington, eldest son to Captain Law- 
rence Washington, who departed this life ye 10th of 
January, 1690, aged 10 years and 6 months. Also 
Mildred Warner, eldest daughter to said Washington, 
who died ye 1st of August, 1696." 

Lewis W. Washington, son and heir-at-law of Col. 
George C Washington, presented these reservations 
" to the mother State of Virginia, in perpetuity, on 
condition solely that the State require the said places 
to be permanently enclosed with an iron fence based on 
stone foundations, together with suitable and modest 
(though substantial) tablets, to commemorate to the 
rising generation these notable spots." 

The grant has been accepted by the State of Vir- 
ginia, and the sum of $5,000 appropriated for the pur- 
pose of fulfilling the conditions mentioned, and erect- 
ing upon the sixty -foot lot consecrated as Washington's 
birthplace a memorial to the I'ater Patriae. 

On the occasion of Gov. H. A. Wise's visit, April 


27, 1858, in order to have the grounds surveyed as 
granted to the State of Virginia, an aged person pres- 
ent remarked, " that he distinctly remembered when a 
house occupied the spot where the chimney now stands, 
and that it was used for a kitchen and laundry." Near 
this place is plainly visible a filled-up cellar, having 
chimney marks at each end, about sixty feet apart. 
This is supposed to be the identical locality where the 
house stood in which General Washington was born. 
It was either burnt or pulled down previous to the 
Revolutionary war. 

Another aged gentleman living in the neighborhood 
remembered the kind of house, and stated, years ago, 
to Mr. J. K. Paulding, that the " house was a low- 
pitched, single-storied, frame building, with four rooms 
on the first floor, and an enormous chimney at each 
end on the outside. This was the style of the better 
sort of houses in those days, and they are still occasion- 
ally seen in the old settlements of Virginia." 

Immediately beyond the chimney, and close by the 
slab, a cluster of luxuriant fig trees have sprung up 
the parents of which yet exist in a decayed condition, 
as remaining relics to point the traveler to the spot that 
gave birth to AVashington, which no American can ever 
behold without feelings of the profoundest homage. 





Ulauitt Vernon ^statt. 

" Oa yonder swelling height, 

With ivied oaks and cedars crowned, 
Where Freedom's banner floats in light, 

And every whispering sound 

Breathes of the past, 'tis consecrated ground. 

"Pilgrim, ascend the steep. 

And there, with true and feeling heart, 
On Vernon's brow deep silence keep ; 

Ay, let the tear-drop start, 

While proud yet hallowed thoughts a balm impart !" 

The Mount Vernon estate is located in the county 
of Fairfax, Va., on the western bank of the Potomac, 
commanding, from its situation, a magnificent and ex- 
tended view of the meanderings of this lovely river in 
either direction for many miles. 

It was bounded, when bequeathed to Judge Bushrod 
Washington, by the Potomac river ; thence by Little 
Hunting creek as far up as Gum Spring on said creek ; 
thence to a ford on Dogue run ; thence along Dogue 
creek to the Potomac river. 


The mansion house,* consecrated as the home ot 

* Lawrence Washington built the central portion of the I 

house, and the wings were added by General Washington | 





Washington, was .built in accordance with the architec- 
tural style then peculiar to the country, and is well 
marked for its great simplicity and the excellence of 
its general arrangements. It stands upon an elliptical 
plain, and has an elevation of at least two hundred feet 
above the surface of the river, which is at this point 
about two miles broad. The mansion presents a fine 
appearance in any position in which it may be viewed. 
Built of the most durable frame-work, with all its fronts 
cut in imitation of free-stone, its gray and time-worn 
aspect is in contrast with houses of the present day, 
with their newly -painted walls, green blinds, and nicely- 
colored doors. This edifice has withstood the ravages 
of time remarkably well, as may be readily seen upon 
inspection. The bouse is two stories high, and is over- 
topped with a slanting roof looking east and west, hav- 
ing three dormars eastward and two westward. On 
the first and second stories in the east fa§ade or river 
front are fourteen windows. Upon the roof, in the ■ 
centre, is an octagonal cupola, answering the purposes 
of an observatory. There are on the ground floor six 
rooms, the most of them wainscoted, and having large 
worked cornices and shafts, in keeping with the taste 
of former days. The central building has a very roomy 
hall on the same level with the pavement of the portico. c 



No doubt this ample hall was built by its original pro- 
prietor that there might be room to receive guests in 
that generous manner which prevailed among our Vir- 
ginia ancestors. It has communication with three par- 
lors and the main stairway, which leads to the chambers 
in the second story, and above these to the observatory. 

Attached to the house is a spacious portico fifteen 
feet in width, its height reaching to the eaves of the 
roof, having square pilasters. It extends entirely 
across the eastern or river front, is ninety-six feet in 
length, and has a light and graceful balustrade on its 
top ; its ground floor is paved with flat stone. Here 
the hero used to walk, and here, doubtless, as his eye 
glanced over the beautiful river, spreading out like a 
bay at the foot of the hill, his mind was often filled 
with reflections upon the alternate gloom and grandeur 
of his country's early history, and with glowing con- 
ceptions of the glorious future which awaited her. 

The south wing of the building contains the library 
and breakfast room, and a stairway that leads to Wash- 
ington's private chamber on the second floor. The 
library remains very much as when occupied by the 
old hero. This wing has attached a porch facing the 
south, giving an entrance to the house through the 

!^?>P^ ^^^"^^5551 

fg.H>V_ . ^rf^^y^ 

• _.. .. . . .^ 


Oa the north wing is an extensive drawing-room, 
decorated with a handsome mantel, presented in the 
yeav 1785 to General Washington by Samuel Vaughen, 
esq., of London, the father of the late and venerable 
John Vaughen, of Philadelphia. The pillars are of a 
rich variegated marble, partially set into the wall ; the 
other portion is composed of a fine white Italian marble, 
having upon its freize, sculptured with a masterly hand 
in bas-relief, prominent objects of agriculture and hus- 
bandry, presenting a beautiful, gay, and graceful ap- 

The original mansion house, built by Lawrence Wash- 
ington, forming the centre of the present building, con- 
sisted only of four rooms upon each floor, to which its 
present extent, with the numerous outbuildings at- 
tached, exhibits quite a contrast. 

The improvements, such as the additions to the 
house, the buildings around, and the laying off of the 
gardens and grounds surrounding the premises, began 
soon after peace was declared, in 1783, on Washing- 
ton's return home from the seat of war. 

There are many things of note and many highly- 
esteemed relics in the house. Among these is an 
ancient map of Virginia, representing the territory be- 
tween the Atlanti c ocean and the Ohio river, with. pen.- 





cilled traces and marks from Washington's own hand, 
designating the route he traversed during Braddock's 
memorable and disastrous campaign against the. French 
and Indians. The key of the Bastile is here, enclosed in 
a glass case placed on the wall in the hall. This key was 
sent by Lafayette from France to General Washington 
soon after the destruction of the prison. Upon a 
bracket over the door of the entrance into the library is 
a model bust, originally taken from life in a mask in 
plaster by M. Houdon, a French sculptor, who visited 
Mount Vernon in October, 1785, and spent three weeks 
there for the express purpose of procuring a likeness as 
exact in all its lineaments as his art and ingenuity 
could produce. The result is a work of art possessing 
much interest, as conveying a truly characteristic delin- 
eation and strongly-marked representation of the origi- 
nal, admitted without doubt to be the best likeness 
extant. This work was designed as a model from 
which to execute a statue of Washington for the State 
of Virginia, which authorized Franklin and Jefferson, 
then in Paris, to select an artist for this purpose. They 
chose M. Houdon. The statue is in the State Capitol 
at Richmond, Va. 

The costume of this statue is the military dress of 
the Revolution. One hand holds a cane, the other rests 


1 *^ 



upon the fasces, with which are united the sword and 
ploughshare, and over it a martial coat. The inscrip- 
tion, by James Madison, on the pedestal, is as follows : 

"George Washington. The General Assembly of the Com- 
monwealth of Virginia have caused this statue to be erected 
as a monument of affection and gratitude to George Wash- 
ington ; who, uniting to the endowments of the hero the vir- 
tues of the patriot, and exerting both in establishing the liber- 
ties of his country, has rendered his name dear to his fellow- 
citizens, and given the world an immortal example of true 
glory. Done in the year of Christ, one thousand seven hun- 
dred and eighty-eight, and in the year of the commonwealth 
the twelfth." 

The following composition on the character of Wash- 
ington, designed, perhaps, for a monumental inscription, 
was written, after Washington's death, on the back of 
a picture frame, in which is placed a miniature like- 
ness of Washington, now hanging in the drawing room. 
The author gave in his name to the family as John 
Smith, of New York, but is supposed to have been an 
English traveller. 


The Defender of his Country — The Founder of Liberty- 

The Friend of Man. 

History and Tradition are explored in vain 

For a Parallel to his Character. 

In the Annals of Modern Greatness 

He stands alone ; 

And the noblest names of antiquity lose their Lustre 

In his Presence. 

Born the Benefactor of Mankind, 

He united all the qualities necessary to an illustrious career. 

Nature made him great— He made himself virtuous. 

Called by his country to the defence of her Liberties, 

He triumphantly vindicated the rights of humanity, 

And m the Pillars of National Independence 

Laid the foundations of a great republic. 

Twice invested with supreme magistracy 

By the unanimious voice of a free people. 

He surpassed in the Cabinet 

The Glories of the Field, 

And, voluntarily resigning the Sceptre and the Sword, 

Retired to the shades of Private Life. 

A spectacle so new and so sublime 

Was contemplated with the profoundest admiration. 

And the name of Washington, 

Adding new lustre to humanity'. 

Resounded to the remotest regions of the earth. 

Magnanimous in youth. 

Glorious through life. 

Great in Death, 

His highest ambition the Happiness of Mankind, 

His noblest Victory the conquest of himself. 

Bequeathing to posterity the inheritance of his fame, 

And building his monument in the hearts of his countrymen, 

He Lived— The Ornament of the 18th Century ; 

He Died— Regretted by a Mourning World. 

''All the regard one could wish seems to have been 
shown to the sacredness of these public relics, and all 
things have been kept very nearly as Washington left 

"Money made in the stocks can purchase the bedi- 
zenry of our city drawing-rooms ; but these elevating 
associations, which no gold can buy, no popular favor 


win — which can only be inherited, — these are the heir- 
looms, the traditionary titles and pensions, inalienable, 
not conferred, which a republic allows to the descend- 
ants of her servants/' 

In visiting the mansion, and beholding the various 
articles it contains, which were constantly in contact 
with the great man, little eflFort is required to lead one 
back to the days when there were assembled within its 
walls those associates of his who laid the foundation of 
our glorious Union. 

Mr. Elkanah Watson, who visited Mount Vernon in 
1785, arriving there in the afternoon of January 23d, 
remarks that he observed a peculiarity in Washington's 
smile, which seemed to illumine his eye; his whole 
countenance beamed with intelligence, while it com 
manded confidence and respect. 

The house on the west front has a very extensive 
lawn, surrounded by serpentine walks, their borders 
skirted in symmetry and beauty with the choicest for- 
est trees, which were transplanted from the woods on the 
estate, with evergreens and flowering shrubs, all selected, 
planted, and attended by Washington. South of the 
lawn, and a considerable distance from the left wing of 
the house, is the vegetable garden ; and opposite to 
this, on the north of the lawn, about the same distance 

?SD^P^ "^-^c^ 


from the right wing, are gardens and a conservatory 
for ornamental shrubs, plants, and flowers. These con- 
tain many valuable plants presented to Washington 
and preserved by him while living. Beyond the gar- 
dens and lawn is the orchard. The orchard, gardens, 
and conservatory were furnished with all varieties of 
rare fruits, vegetables, shrubs, and flowering plants, 
native and exotic. Horticulture was one of Washing- 
ton's favorite pursuits, which he prosecuted with char- 
acteristic method and skill. Also on this front of the 
house are located negro quarters, seed houses, tool 
houses, and other buildings, the necessary appendages 
to a plantation. These things have no peculiar interest 
in themselves, except as belonging to the place, and 
being objects that received the owner's frequent atten- 

l^SP^ ^^^"^G^^ 





Summer ^ouse. 

" How oft with placid eye 

Has he, whose spirit awes us still, 
Stood where we stand, and -viewed the sky, 

The river, vale, and hill. 

And heard the forest bird its anthem trill." 

Upon the brow of the hill on which the mansion is sit- 
uated, and not far from the water's edge, stands a frame, 
unfinished, square summer-house, and underneath an 
ice-house, both partially in ruins, in the rear of which 
is a beautiful lawn several acres in extent, reaching 
northward beyond the mansion, and planted with shrub- 
bery and ornamental trees. A spectator has a fine view 
of the Potomac and Maryland shore from the summer 
house, which is the most conspicuous object seen in 
passing up the river, and presents a handsome appear- 









©lb JfamiliT 0ciiilt. 

About two hundred and fifty yards south of the man- 
sion house can be seen the old family vault, in a very 
dilapidated condition, situated on the ridge of a steep 
hill, embosomed among trees. It is arched with free- 
stone, and over this a deep sod. Washington had 
contemplated moving this old family vault some time 
prior to his death, and in making his will he left a 
clause as follows : ''The family vault at Mount Vernon 
requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, 
I desire that a new one, of brick, and upon a larger 
scale, may be built at the foot of what is commonly 
called the Vineyard Enclosure, on the ground, which 
is made out, in which my remains and those of ray de- 
ceased relatives, (now in the old vault,) and such other 
of my family as may choose to be entombed there, may 
be deposited." But it was not finally done until an 
attempt was made some years ago to desecrate this 
hallowed spot by some demon -in human form. The 
vault was entered, and a skull and other bones were 
taken from it. The robbery was discovered and the 
bones returned. The bones stolen, however, were not 





: 3gb^ \ _^tfCi9s« 


those of the illustrious Washington. The desire of 
Washington in reference to the removal of the old fam- 
ily vault to the spot designated by him previous to his 
death, and mentioned in his will, was carried out 
through the agency of his nephew and friend, Major 
Lewis, in 1831, or immediately after the robbery was 
committed. In the old vault the body of the Hero re- 
mained from 1799 until 1831 — a period over thirty-one 








%\t iclu fault. 

"Nature hath marked the spot 
Where sleeps the great, the good, the wise, 

Entombed — yet ne'er to be forgot: 
Ah, there the Hero lies ! 
The man of mighty deeds and high emprise." 

The new tomb is perhaps one hundred yards west of 
the old vault, and three hundred southwest from the 
mansion, on the hillside of a lovely retreat, and, though 
not seen from the river, is suddenly brought into full 
view as one ascends the long sloping hill from the 
landing. This hallowed spot is surrounded by a deep 
wooded dell containing thick shrubbery and many ven- 
erable, stately oaks, spreading their green foliage down 
to the river banks. 

The remains of the patriot and those of his wife lie 
in marble sarcophagi, the two occupying (one on the 
right side and the other on the left) a kind of ante- 
chamber, forming the entrance to the new vault, which 
is visible from the outer gateway. This antechamber 
is covered with a metallic roof, and its walls, built of 
brick and elevated to the height of twelve feet, are so 
extended in the rear as to surround the new vault on 
all sides. Its front, which is surmounted with a stone 





coping, is pierced by a gateway with a pointed gothic 
arch. The gate is composed of iron bars. Over the 
gateway is a plain slab, upon which are inscribed the 
words : 


The vault beyond the antechamber, where the body 
of the chief lay previously to the erection of the latter, 
(which was completed in 1837,) was built in 1831. 
The vault is arched over at the height of eight feet 
from the ground. Around this vault grew a few cedars, 
giving very little shade, many of the branches of which 
were lopped off by visitors as mementoes. The vault 
has a rough-cast front, with a plain iron door fixed in 
a free-stone casement. Over this there is a stone tablet, 
with the following brief passage from the Scriptures : 




The vault was constructed as it is seen at present, 
with the exception that the simple words " Washington 
Family" originally appeared upon a cap-stone, which 
the building of the antechamber made it necessary to 

In the lapse of more than thirty-one years the wooden 

^5^ "^^^6^; 







coffins have been three times renewed, and ultimately 
his friends succeeded in placing his ashes in a more 
durable receptacle. 

Mr. John Struthers, a marble and granite cutter of 
Philadelphia, was consulted by the friends of Washing- 
ton in reference to the construction of a marble sar- 
cophagus to enshrine the remains of the illustrious 
chief. Mr. Struthers, with a deep feeling of respect 
and liberality, desired the privilege of constructing and 
presenting to the friends a sarcophagus made of Penn- 
sylvania marble. It was granted ; and .in the execu- 
tion of the work he has evidently displayed an unusual 
amount of artistic taste and skill. The following is a 
description of it : 

"The construction of the sarcophagus is of the mod- 
ern form, and consists of an excavation from a solid 
block of marble, eight feet in length, three feet in 
width, and two feet in height, resting on a plinth, 
which projects four inches round the base of the coffin. 
The lid or covering stone is a ponderous block of Italian 
marble, emblazoned with the arms and insignia of the 
United States, beautifully sculptured in the boldest 
relief. The design occupies a large portion of the cen- 
tral part of the top surface or lid, and represents a 
shield divided into thirteen perpendicular stripes, which 





rests on the flag of our country, and is attached by 
cords to a spear, embellished with tassels, forming a 
background to the shield, by which it is supported. 
The crest is an eagle with open wings, perching upon 
the superior bar of the shield, and in the act of clutch- 
ing the arrows and olive branch. Between these ar- 
morial bearings and the foot of the coffin, upon the 
plain field of the lid, is the bold and deeply-sculptured 
name of 


At the foot of the coffin an inscription reads as fol- 
lows : 




A. D. 1S37. 

The sarcophagus was intended to be placed in the 
new vault, built in 1831; but Mr. Strickland, who 
accompanied Mr. Struthers to Mount Vernon, says : 

"Upon a consultation with this gentleman, [Major 
Lewis,] after stating to him the difficulties which would 
attend the placing of the sarcophagus in the damp 
vault, and the inappropriateness of the situation for 
such a work of art, and upon suggesting to him a plan 
for constructing a suitable foundation on the right of 
the entrance gate, on the outside of the vault, between 

I'StJP^ ~--^^d 





45 te 

it and the surrounding walls, and the practicability of 
extending the side walls of the vault to the surround- 
ing enclosure, and arching it over beyond any contact 
with the soil of the sloping hill, taking care to guard 
the vaulted chamber with a metallic roof, with an addi- 
tional grille of iron bars in front, and other fastenings 
and securities, as guards against idle curiosity and the 
chances of attempt at desecration, he consented to the 

"We were accompanied to the spot by the steward, 
and the grated doors were opened for the first time in 
the lapse of seven years. During the operation the 
steward was directed to procure lights for the purpose 
of entering the vault and preparing the way for the 
removal of the body to the outside of the vault. The 
gate of the enclosure was temporarily closed, and 
upon the opening of the vault door we entered, accom- 
panied by Major Lewis and his son. The coffin con- 
taining the remains of V/ashingtcn was in the extreme 
back part of the vault ; and to remove the case con- 
taining the leaden receptacle, it was found necessary 
to put aside the coffins that were piled up between it 
and the doorway. After clearing a passage-way, the 
case, which was much decayed, was stripped off, and 
the lead of the lid was discovered to have sunk very 




considerably from head to foot ; so mucli so as to form 
a curved line of four to five inches in its whole length. 
This settlement of the metal had perhaps caused the 
soldering of the joints to give way about the upper or 
widest part of the coffin. The lead of the lid was re- 
stored to its place, and the body, raised by six men, 
was carried and laid in the marble coffin, and the pon- 
derous cover being put on and set in cement, it was 
sealed from our sight on Saturday, the 7th day of Oc- 
tober, 1837. 

" Immediately after the performance of this melan- 
choly ceremony, the sarcophagus was cased up with 
plank, to prevent any injury being done to the carving 
during the operation of enlarging the vault, 

" The relatives, consisting of Major Lewis, Lorenzo 
Lewis, John Augustine Washington, Richard Black- 
burn Washington, George Washington, the Reverend 
Mr. Johnson and lady, and Miss Jane Washington, 
then retired to the mansion. 

" The deepest feeling of reverence pervaded this 
assembly. The descendants of this illustrious man had 
the inexpressible satisfaction of seeing his ashes imper- 
ishably secured from the slow but sure attack of time. 

" It is proper here to remark, that when the wooden 
case was removed from the leaden coffin, a silver breast- 




plate, in the shape of the old continental shield or es- 
cutcheon,* was found, upon which were engraved, in 
Roman characters, the dates of the birth and death of 
Washington. This escutcheon was about the size of 
the palm of a hand, with an ornamental chased border 
or margin. It had evidently been attached to the 
leaden lid, but from some cause or other it had given 
way, and was found between the fragments of the ex- 
terior wooden case or covering." 

* The common impression of a heart. The words upon it 
were as follows : " George Washington, born Feb. 22, 1732, 
died Dec. 14, 1799." This plate also was deposited in the 
marble sarcophagus. 



Prs. Sart^n ^as^mgt0n. 

"And with him, at his side, 
There rests the loveliest of her clime, 

His bosom friend and sainted bride — 
Death's dream, oh how sublime ! 
Responsive still to memory's magic chime!" 

On the left of the gateway, by the side of Washing- 
ton, rest the remains of his beloved wife, Mrs. Martha 
Custis Washington, in a marble sarcophagus sculptured 
by the same hand, in a plain style ; and upon it are the 
words, " Martha, consort of Washington : died May 21, 
1801, aged 71 years." Her remains were placed, 
agreeably to her directions previously to her death, in 
a leaden coffin, and entombed by the side of her hus- 
band in the old vault. Since then they have been re- 
moved whenever and wherever her partner's have been. 

On the 23d of December, 1799, Mr. Marshall offered 
the following resolution in Congress : " That a marble 
monument be erected by the United States, in the 
Capitol, at the city of Washington, and that the family 
of General Washington be requested to permit his body 
to be deposited under it, and that the monument be so 
designed as to commemorate the great events of his 
military and political life." To a letter from the Pres- 



ident of the United States communicating this resolu- 
tion, Mrs. Washington responded as follows : 

Mt. Vernon, Decemher 31, 1799. 
Sir : While I feel, with keenest anguish, the late 
dispensation of Divine Providence, I cannot be insen- 
sible to the mournful tributes of respect and veneration 
which are paid to the memory of my deceased husband; 
and, as his best services and most anxious wishes were 
always devoted to the welfare and happiness of his 
country, to know that they were really appreciated and 
gratefully remembered affords no inconsiderable con- 

Taught by that great example which I have so long 
had before fne never to oppose my private wishes to 
the public will, I must consent to the request of Con- 
gress, which you have had the goodness to transmit to 
me ; and, in doing this, I need not, I cannot, say what 
a sacrifice of individual feeling I make to a sense of 
public duty. 

With grateful acknowledgments and unfeigned thanks 
for the personal respect and evidences of condolence 
expressed by Congress and yourself, I remain, very 
respectfully, sir, your most obedient humble servant, 


^ - p 


It is doubtful whether his or her remains could fiud 
a more appropriate resting-place than amid Mount 
Vernon's sacred shades, where no sound of angry pas- 
sion or political strife disturbs their quiet repose. 

She partook in life of the same complacent dignity 
and even temperament as her husband. She betrayed 
no wish to interrupt his plans, but rather gave him 
encouragement in all his undertakings for his country's 
welfare. Whilst he was in the field, she was employ- 
ing her time and means, in conjunction with other 
ladies, to provide food and clothing for the soldiers, 
and even went fi-om door to door to enlist co-operation 
in the accomplishment of this laudable design. 

Her virtues, her accomplishments, and her lively 
sympathy with the cause to which her illustrious part- 
ner was devoted, doubtless tended greatly to encourage 
his patriotic zeal and nerve his heart for the trying 
scenes through which he was called to pass. 



mi^2^ =^s^i 


On the right of the walk leading to the tomb from 
the landing is a monument erected to the memory of 
Judge Bushrod Washington and his wife, Anna Black- 
burn. These words are upon its side facing the tomb, 
"Within the vault lie buried the mortal remains of 
Bushrod Washington, an Associate Justice of the Su- 
preme Court of the United States. He died in Phil- 
adelphia, November 26th, 1829, aged 68. By his side 
is interred his devoted wife, Anna Blackburn, who sur- 
vived her husband but two days, aged 60. 

The heart was broken and aches no more.' 
' They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death 
they were not divided.' ' 

Immediately opposite, on the left side of the walk, is 
a monument erected to the memory of John A. Wash- 
ington, (the 2d.) These words are upon its side facing 
the tomb : " Sacred to the memory of John A. Wash- 
ington, son of Corbin and Hannah Washington, and 
nephew of Judge Bushrod Washington, who ap- 
pointed him one of his executors, and bequeathed 
him Mount Vernon, where he died, June 16th, 1832, 
aged 43." 


^'5?>P^" ~"^^<5^* 


On the side facing the monument of Bushrod and 
Anna Blackburn Washington, are the following words ; 
"His mortal remains are interred within the vault, and 
this humble monument to his worth, his purity, and 
unostentatious excellence in all the relations of life, is 
erected by his widow." 

At the right of the tomb are two monuments enclosed 
with iron railings. One was erected to the memory of 
Eleanor Parke Lewis, grand-daughter of General Wash- 
ington, and has these words inscribed upon it : "B,eared 
under the roof of the Father of his Country, this lady 
was not more marked, while living, for her beauty of per- 
son than for the superiority of her mind. She lived to 
be admired, and died to be regretted, in the 74th year 
of her age." The other is, " Sacred to the memory of 
Mrs. M. E. A. Conrad, wife of Charles, of New Orleans, 
and daughter of Charles and Eleanor P, Lewis, and 
grand-niece of General Washington, born April 1st, 
1813, at Wooddown, Fairfax county, Va., and died 
September 21st, 1839, at Pass Christian, Miss., in the 
27th year of her age." 

m'^t^p^ "'^^'^^^i 


sia9v_ --^^<^^ 



'♦The echoes of its vaults are eloquent I 
The stones have voices, and the walls do live ; 
It is the house of Memory." 

The tomb of Washington must ever be regarded as 
a sacred spot. A halo of glory encircles it. It has a 
thousand tongues, speaking silently to the heart, and 
proclaiming, in sweet accenss, all the associations of 
his great name, which is baptized with the everlasting 
gratitude of his people. 

Nothing could exceed the deep feelings of venera- 
tion and reverence experienced as we approached the 
hallowed soil where rest the ashes of him who was 
" first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of 
his countrymen." At the time, the heavens were most 
propitious ; the sun shone forth with a peculiar beauty 
and lovelines's; the sky was blue, deep, and lofty, 
its heavenly arch spanning a rich and variegated land- 
scape. As we stood in front of the tomb, with the 
Potomac glimmering in the sunlight below, there was 
around a calm in nature, betokening solemnity in pre- 
sence of the illustrious dead. Silence reigned, save 
only as now and then the murmur of the breeze play- 

53 \\^ 


ing over the hills, and the rustling of the winds in the 
low tree tops, were heard, in gentle minstrelsy to him 
who reposes amid these august shades. 

Washington came upon the stage of action when the 
world most needed such a man. The golden era was 
about to dawn in which man was to step beyond the 
limits within which he had been so long confined. The 
rights of the many required to be vindicated against 
the tyranny of the few, and he was to be the chosen 
leader in the mighty conflic:. 

He saw, in his prophetic vision, as the clouds of ages 
rolled away, a beautiful female form, with hope beam- 
ing from her lovely brow. For her defence she wore a 
shield; the stripes emblazoned thereon were emblem- 
atic of oppression — the stars, of her ultimate dominion. 
Heroes fought for her, and maidens wove chaplets 
and spread garlands in her pathway. Washington 
beheld the glorious vision, and called it Liberty — 
the spirit of his beloved country. Finding, as he 
consulted the records of aristocracy and despotism, 
that they comprised a history of injustice, rapacity, 
and blood, he vowed " hostility to every form of 
tryanny over the mind of man ;" and, adopting the 
motto that " all men are created free and equal," being 
endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of 

;3 S^^ .^cXjgi 



"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," he be- 
came the chief among that band of heroes who nobly 
pledged their "■ lives, their fortunes, and their sacred 
honors" to the maintenance of the position they had ■-- r'** ** 

Washington well deserves the appellation of the Fa- 
ther of his Country. He commanded, with surpassing 
adeptness, his country's armies 3 he trained them in 
the mystery of warfare ; confirmed their dubious reso- 
lution by his invincible courage; and taught them 
to be magnanimous in the cheering hour of victory. 
While his brilliant successes in the army, and his 
great constitutional and political teachings, standing 
out in bold relief, command the admiration of the world 
and are emblazoned upon the pages of history, his quiet 
disposition, his modest pretensions, and his undaunted 
perseverance in the most retired walks of life, no less 
endear him to the hearts of all. 

'^^Jyp^ -^-SsGcM 


In the prime of life Washington measured (without 
shoes) six feet one inch; four years previous to his 
death, (1795,) six feet one-half inch. He was erect 
and well proportioned in his person, slightly corpulent. 
His complexion was florid. His forehead not extremely 
broad, but well formed. His nose prominent and some- 
what aquiline. A firm expression of mouth, indicative 
of silent habit. His countenance, bearing the impress 
of intelligence and meditation, indicated a pleasant dis- 
position within. His eyes were dark blue, and his 
hair of a brown color. His lips expressed good will 
and kindness. His manners never failed to engage 
respect and esteem from all who had intercourse with 
him. He was quite accessible and pleasant in conver- 
sation, but cautious in expressing an opinion which he 
thought it prudent to conceal. The signet of brilliant 
genius was not so fully stamped upon his mind as 
correct judgment and consummate prudence. He was 
not so pre-eminent for possessing any single quality in 
the highest degree as for that combination of all the 
elements of greatness which is so seldom found in the 
same individual. 



^^9^ . ^.^^sF&m 

Q\i — ^" ■ ~~ — ^ — ^ 


" He was not only distinguished for his bravery and 
intelligence, but for the purest virtues which can adorn 
the human heart. He has been venerated in the mem- 
ory of distant nations, and immortalized by the bless- 
ings he shed upon his country. He resembles the orb 
of day, imparting his twilight long after he is set, and 
invisibly dispensing his light and cheering warmth to 
the world. Cautious and prudent, he was never sur- 
prised by the most disheartening failures, nor alarmed 
into compliance by the most undaunted threats." 

ll^t)^?^ ~~~"^S<^5 



The following tribute from Phillips, an Englishman, 
does justice to the heart and head of the writer : 

"It matters very little what immediate spot may 
have been the birth-place of such a man as Washington. 
No people can claim, no country can appropriate him. 
The boon of Providence to the human race, his fame 
is eternity, and his residence creation. Though it was 
the defeat of our arms, and the disgrace of our policy, 
I almost bless the convulsion in which he had his origin. 
If the heavens thundered, and the earth rocked, yet, 
when the storm had passed, how pure was the climate 
that it cleared ! how bright, in the brow of the firma- 
ment, was the planet which it revealed to us ! In the 
production of Washington, it does really appear as if 
Nature was endeavoring to improve upon herself, and 
that all the virtues of the ancient world were but so 
many studies preparatory to the patriot of the new. 
Individual instances, no doubt, there were, splendid 
exemplifications of some singular qualification : Caesar 
was merciful, Scipio was continent, Hannibal was pa- 
tient; but it was reserved for Washington to blend 
them all in one, and, like the lovely masterpiece of the 




Grecian artist, to exhibit, in one glow of associated 
beauty, the pride of every model, and the perfection of 
every master. As a general, he marshalled the peasant 
into a veteran, and supplied by discipline the absence 
of experience ; as a statesman, he enlarged the policy 
of the cabinet into the most comprehensive system of 
general advantage ; and such were the wisdom of his 
views and the philosophy of his councils, that to the 
soldier and the statesman he almost added the charac- 
ter of the sage ! A conqueror, he was untainted with 
the crime of blood. A revolutionist, he was free from 
every stain of treason ; for aggression commenced the 
contest, and his country called him to the command. 
Liberty unsheathed his sword, necessity stained, victo- 
ry returned it. If he had paused here, history might 
have doubted what station to assign him ; whether at 
the head of her citizens or her soldiers, her heroes or 
her patriots. But the last glorious act crowns his 
career, and banishes all hesitation. Who, like Wash- 
ington, after having emancipated a hemisphere, resign- 
ed its crowns, and preferred the retirement of domestic 
life to the adoration of a land he might be almost said 
to have created ? Happy, proud America ! The light- 
ning of heaven yielded to your philosophy ! The temp- 
tations of earth could not seduce your patriotism !" 

l^s&^ =.^&^_9^ 


SSlitsIjiii(!t0ns Just gap, 

"Oh ! shade of the Mighty, how calm is that sleep 

In which Death with his pitiless fetters has bound thee, 
While a nation of Freen-en their love-watches keep, 
With Henrt and Jeffekson waiting around thee!' 

It was customary, when at home, for Washington to 
ride out on horseback around his estate during part of 
each day. This he did on the 12th of December, 
(Thursday,) and spent several hours ri'ding about to 
inspect his farms and give directions to his overseers ; 
and while returning home late in the afternoon, he was 
exposed to falling weather — hail, snow, and rain — which 
caused his hair and neck to get wet, and his person 
chilled. The next day, the 13th, (Friday,) it was also 
his purpose to ride out, but a heavy snow-fall that 
morning prevented him. He complained lightly of a 
sore throat from his exposure the day previous, yet he 
did not seem apprehensive of any danger from it. He 
went in the afternoon in front of the house some 
distance towards the river, to mark some trees that 
were to be cut down in order to make an ornamental 
improvement ; then returned and passed the evening 
with the family in the usual manner. The next morn- 
ing, which was Saturday, the 14th, between two and 


^-^^>^ _^tKiS:;^ 



three o'clock, he called his wife and told her his con- 
dition. She noticed that he breathed with great diffi- 
culty and had considerable hoarseness in speaking. 
According to his request, she sent for one of the over- 
seers to bleed him. The family became alarmed when 
they saw the rapid advancement of the disease. A 
messenger was despatched for the family physician, 
Dr. Craik, who resided in Alexandria. In the mean- 
time, another messenger went for Dr. Brown, who lived 
nearer Mount Vernon. They arrived during the morn- 
ins, and in the course of the day Dr. Dick was also 
called in ; but the skill of the physicians, though ex- 
erted to the utmost, proved insufficient to arrest his 
disease — quinsy. 

As dissolution was fast approaching, he endeavored 
to raise himself up in bed, when Dr. Craik held out 
his hand and assisted him. He then cast a benign look 
around the room, and said to the physicians, '' I feel 
myself going : I thank you for your attention ; but I 
pray you take no more trouble about me. Let me go 
off quietly ; I cannot last long." 



SHasljingtans gcatlj. 

About ten o'clock in the evening he made several 
fruitless efforts to converse with some of those around 
the bedside. At length he succeeded in saying, " I 
am just going; have me decently buried, and do not 
let my body be put into the vault in less than three 
days after I am dead." 

Mr. Tobias Lear, who was for many years Washing- 
ton's secretary, and afterwards superintendent of his 
private affairs, being present during Washington's last 
illness, says : " About ten minutes before he expired, 
which was between ten and eleven o'clock, his breath- 
ing became easier. He lay quietly ; he withdrew his 
hand from mine and felt his own pulse. I paw his 
countenance change. I spoke to Dr. Craik, who sat 
by the fire. He came to the bedside. The General's 
hand fell from his wrist. I took it in mine, and pressed 
it to my bosom. Dr. Craik put his hands over his eyes, 
and he expired without a struggle or a sigh. While 
we were fixed in silent grief, Mrs. Washington, who was 
sitting at the foot of the bed, asked, with a firm and 
collected voice, ' Is he gone ?' I could not speak, but 
held up my hand as a signal that he was no more. ' 'Tis 

(^1 62_ 


well/ said she, in the same voice * all is now over ; I 
shall soon follow him ; I have no more trials to pass 

Thus did the great man fall asleep, to wake no more 
on earth ; but his spirit winged its flight to happier 
realms. He died on Saturday night, December 14th, 

The painful news of the death of Washington arrived 
at the seat of government (Philadelphia) before the 
information of his sickness. It caused a general gloom 
to pervade the minds of the members of Congress. 
Silence reigned in the House of Representatives for a 
short period, after which Mr. Marshall, (who afterwards 
became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
United States,) with a voice and countenance indicative 
of the,, deepest sorrow, commenced an address to the 
House, as follows : " Mr. Speaker, information has 
just been received that our illustrious citizen, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the American army and the late 
President of the United States, is no more. Though 
this distressing intelligence is not certain, there is too 
much reason to believe its truth. After receiving in- 
formation of this national calamity, so heavy and affict- 
ing, the House of Representatives can be but ill fitted 
for public business. I move you, therefore, that we 

l^^iyp^ ~ --SsG^^ 


adjourn." The House adjourned immediately, as also 
did the Senate. 

The next morning, in the House, Mr. Marshall ad- 
dressed the chair in the following manner : 

" Mr. Speaker : The melancholy event, which was 
yesterday announced with doubt, has been rendered too 
certain. Our Washington is no more ! The hero, the 
patriot, and the sage of America ; the man on whom in 
times of danger every eye was turned and all hopes 
were placed, lives now only in his own great actions 
and in the hearts of an affectionate and afflicted people. 

" If, sir, it had even not been usual openly to testify 
respect for the memory of those whom Heaven has 
selected as its instruments for dispensing good to man, 
yet such has been the uncommon worth and such the 
extraordinary incidents which have marked the life of 
him whose loss we all deplore, that the whole Ameri- 
can nation, impelled by the same feelings, would call 
with one voice for a public manifestation of that sorrow 
which is so deep and so universal. 

'*' More than any other individual, and as much as to i 

one individual was possible, has he contributed to found 
this our wide-spreading empire, and to give to the 
western world independence and freedom. Having 
effected the great object for which he was placed at the 


m^9^b^ ^^t^Ki^l 


head of our armies, we have seen him convert the sword 
into the ploughshare, and sink the soldier in the citizen. 

" When the debility of our federal system had be- 
come manifest, and the bonds which connected this vast 
continent were dissolving, we have seen him the chief 
of those patriots who formed for us a constitution, 
which, by preserving the union, will, I trust, substan- 
tiate and perpetuate those blessings which our Revolu- 
tion had promised to bestow. 

" In obedience to the general voice of this country, 
calling him to preside over a great people, we have seen 
him once more quit the retirement he loved, and, in a 
season more stormy and tempestuous than war itself, 
with calm and wise determination pursue the true 
interests of the nation, and contribute, more than any 
other could contribute, to the establishment of that 
system of policy which will, I trust, yet preserve our 
^eace, our honor, and our independence. 

" Having been twice unanimously chosen the Chief 
Magistrate of a free people, we have seen him, at a time 
when his re-election with universal suffrage could not 
be doubted, afford to the world a rare instance of mod- 
eration, by withdrawing from his station to the peace- 
ful walks of private life. 

" However the public confidence may change and tho 

m^^F^p^ ' ~-<t6^^ 

u>, '- " 



public affections fluctuate with respect to others, with 
respect to him they have, in war and in peace, in public 
and private life, been as steady as his own firm mind 
and as constant as his own exalted virtues." 

He then offered three resolutions, which passed. 
Among the rest it was resolved, in conjunction with 
the Senate, that there be appointed a committee to con- 
sider the most appropriate manner of paying honor to 
the memory of the man first in war, first in peace, and 
first in the hearts of his countrymen. The resolutions 
had no sooner passed, than a message was received 
from the President of the United States, John Adams, 
transmitting a letter from Mr. T. Lear, " which," said 
the message, ^'will inform you that it had pleased 
Divine Providence to remove from this life our excel- 
lent fellow-citizen, George Washington, by the purity 
of his life and a long series of services to his country 
rendered illustrious through the world. It remains for 
an affectionate and grateful people, in whose hearts he 
can never die, to pay suitable honor to his memory." 

On this mournful event the Senate addressed a long 
letter to the President. It closed as follows : " This 
event, so distressing to all our fellow-citizens, must be 
peculiarly heavy to you, who have long been associated 
with him in deeds of patriotism. Permit us, sir, to 

l^^^ir^ ' ^^^^^6^^ 


mingle our tears with yours. On this occasion it is 
manly to weep. To lose such a man, at such a crisis, 
is no common calamity to the world Our country 
mourns a father. The Almighty dispenser of human 
events has taken from us our greatest benefactor and 
ornament. It becomes us to submit with reverence to 
Him who 'maketh darkness his pavilion.' " 

The arrangements of the funeral procession were 
made by Colonels Little, Sims, and Deneale, and Dr. 
Pick ; and 12 o'clock on "Wednesday, December 18th, 
was the appointed hour to bury the body; but as some 
of the military troops from a distance failed to arrive 
at the hour, and persons were coming in from various 
quarters, the hour was postponed. Between 2 and 3 
o'clock p. m. a signal gun was heard from a vessel 
moored near the river shore, in solemn token that the 
funeral cortege was in readiness to start. 

is^^ "^^^^^^5* 


The procession moved out through the gate in the 

rear of the house, left wing, and proceeded around to 

the east or river front, along the right wing, down the 

lawn, to the old family vault, in the following order: 

Cavalry, infantry, and guard, with arms reversed ; 

Music ; 

Clergy, consisting of Rev. Messrs. Davies, Muir, 

Moffat, and Addison ; 

The General's horse, with his saddle, holsters and pistols, 

the horse being led by two grooms, dressed 

in black, named Cyrus and Wilson ; 
Colonel Blackburn, preceding the corpse ; 
PaU Bearers. Fall Btarers. 

Col. Sims, ^ C Col. Gilpin, 

Col. Ramsay, V CORPSE. I Col. Marsteller, 
Col. Payne, ) \ Col. Little. 

Principal Mourners. 
Misses Nancy and Sally Stuart ; 
Miss Fairfax and Miss Denison ; 
Messrs. Law and Peter ; 
Dr. Craik and Mr. Lear ; 
Lord Fairfax and Ferdinando Fairfax ; 
Lodge No. 23 of the Free Masons ; 
Corporation of Alexandria ; 
Citizens, preceded by Mr. Anderson and the overseers. 

As soon as the head of the procession had arrived at 
the bottom of the lawn, near the family vault, the cav- 
alry halted and then formed their lines; the infantry 
did the same; immediately after, the clergy, maeonic 


M22^>^ : ___^,<^2£^ 

'>^\\ I '■ ' — ■ !i w 

ra III 


brotlieis, aud citizens descended to the vault, when the 
Rev. Mr. Davis read the funeral services of the church' 
and pronounced a short address ; after which the ma- 
sonic brethren performed their ceremonies, and depos- 
ited the corpse in the vault. A general discharge of 
guns from the military that lined the banks of the river 
closed the scene. 

The coflSn bore the following inscriptions: at the 
head, "Surge ad Judicum;" about the middle, "Gloria 
Deo;" and on the ornamental silver plate, "General 
George Washington departed this life on the 14th De- 
cember, 1799. ^t. 68." 

He expressed in his will the desire that he should 
be buried in a private manner, and without any parade 
or funeral oration ; but in this instance his fellow-citi- 
zens could not be dissuaded from going contrary to his 
wish, and therefore assembled in great numbers to 
pay their last tribute of respect to his earthly remains. 

The proud fleet of the English, coming up the Poto- 
mac river, in hostile aspect, in the time of the last war, 
halted in front of Mount Vernon, and, amid the curling 
smoke of their minute guns, testified their respect for 
the memory of our illustrious Washington — 

" Great, without pomp ; without ambition, brave ; 
Proud, not to conquer fellow-men, but save." 

ry — ^ 

I 19 An 


^^r' /^< 



FR,IOE, 38 CElsrXS. 



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